Ghost in a Shell
“What is Amina thinking accusing my son of rape? Gossip is swirling all about me.” Reggie’s father screamed over the receiver.
“I couldn’t put my finger on why I didn’t like your son, but now I know why.” Charles spat back.
“You actually believe the nonsense that spilled from your daughter’s mouth?” he asked shocked.
“Amina has no reason to lie-“
“I’ll have you know if you or Amina pushes this lie any further, I’ll sue the both of you for all that you’re worth!”
“Go right ahead because I’m standing by my daughter.”
“You’re willing to sever our lifelong friendship over her? She’s not even your flesh and blood.”
“You be real careful talking about Amina. She’s my daughter regardless of what’s been said. You want to go toe to toe with me, fine. I’ll see you in court.” Charles ended the call fuming. He felt this mess was his fault. Had he put his foot down blocking Rania’s matchmaking, Amina wouldn’t have suffered the way she had; if only he’d gone with his gut feeling… He didn’t know how he could ever make it up to Amina but the first thing he was going to do was make sure she got the justice she deserved. Reginald was going to rot in prison for what he’s done. As Charles looked around, his whole house was in shambles and somehow he failed as a father. He was beginning to see it wasn’t he who ruled his house, Rania did. Brendan’s relationship with a woman he hadn’t known he was dating was obliterated due to his wife’s meddling and God only knows how many lives Chaunice have crushed.
So much had bubbled and run over he had a difficult time containing everything. Rania wasn’t speaking to him and strange enough, he hadn’t minded one bit. She packed some of her things and took a flight to her sister’s. When she came back, things were going to be different, no more would he look the other way being passive hoping things would work themselves out. He had already prepared himself for the worst just in case his wife divorced him. At least he would have peace of mind knowing his actions were right, standing up for Amina, something he should have done a long time ago.
But, peace hadn’t been ruling in James’ heart. No way! He wanted to even the score, something he knew he shouldn’t do, but damn it all, he couldn’t just turn a blind eye to Amina’s ex, he hurt her and James wanted to spill blood. He researched all there was to know about Reginald Jones III. His father was a former politician that still held weight in other business ventures, his mother was an investment banker and any siblings he had failed to stay out of the grips of the law. All the information he scraped up was great, but James was going to do this old school, cloak and dagger type stuff. After acquiring Reggie’s address, James pinpointed any cameras that were installed, marked where to stow away to catch his unsuspecting perpetrator unaware. He tracked his movements, noted where he made appearances regularly. Two weeks, he watched and waited.
There indeed was a blonde similar in build and likeness to Amina who showed up like clockwork. She stopped by every Friday and Sunday night. But tonight, Reggie was going to get a little surprise. Luck was on his side as Reggie was in his backyard with his back turned, talking on his cellphone. Razor sharp movements caught James’s eyes and if blinked, he would have missed someone sneaking up from behind giving the perp a rough shove to the ground and a scuffle ensued.
A tightly gloved fist crashed across Reggie’s jaw sending him hissing against the throbbing pain ricocheting up his skull. Trying to land a blow all he caught was dead air and blades of grass and earth tucked under his nails. No matter how he tried to defend himself, he couldn’t stop the constant body shots and kicks to his ribs. Reggie was once again left on the ground, curled up into a ball helplessly in pain.
James never expected someone to beat him to the punch, but serves him right, he got what was coming to him. He just wondered who the person was that was dressed in a dark hoodie and inky jeans. What score had he just settled with that creep? James slowly backed away with a morsel of satisfaction pain was inflicted on his target. He knew for certain when Reggie recovered, Amina would be the first and only person on his list to blame for this attack. He had to protect her and protect her he would.
Protecting Amina was what Lauren thought she had done but all of it came crashing down over her head. How in three decades had it come to this? Now, she worried endlessly about the what ifs…what if Amina’s father found her and what if she came to hate her even more for taking her away from her awful father? Somehow she had to make things right with her daughter. But would she listen? Would she push her away like she did when Amina followed her through the kitchen trying to get her attention?
Lauren hadn’t lived with ease knowing she could only see and love her daughter in silence at a distance. It broke her heart every single time she ran to her, not Rania, for advice, for a shoulder to lean on only for her to repeat countless times that she wasn’t her mother and wouldn’t go over Rania’s authority. Lauren had hated how Rania made her feel every time Amina wrapped her small arms around her legs when she was feeling cornered by Chaunice. She was her safe haven and Amina hadn’t really known it. There was so much guilt that she didn’t know where to start to untangle the web of dishonesty she had woven. Lauren just hoped Amina would grant her the opportunity of explanation.
As she did every night, she inspected all doors and windows and walked through her home before turning in for the night. The house was secure yet something had her on edge. Lauren’s shoulders stiffened, ready for sudden impact. Trepidation tripped her heart as she rocked from one foot to another.
“Is someone there?” Silence spoke back before another deep voice sliced through the air.
“We have some things to discuss Lauren.” She knew it was only a matter of time before he found her and here he was a phantom over her head.
“We don’t have anything to talk about. Please leave.” Her voice almost escaped her when he was present. His presence, his razor-sharp gaze which was no doubt was slicing her through frightened her. In her youth, she mistook it for passion and curiosity. But she’d come to know him as calculating and controlling. He let nothing slip pass his unwavering glare. She would not break or cower at his intrusion.
“You stole my daughter from me.”
“You didn’t even know I was pregnant.” Lauren lamented as she finally turned to face him.
“And you had no problem being deceptive. I didn’t get a chance to raise Amina.”
“Don’t say her name, she is not your daughter. Furthermore, I did what had to be done. I had to protect her.”
“From where I’m standing, you’re the villain, not me.”
“Your lifestyle would have gotten me and my child killed. I took the necessary steps to prevent that.”
“I don’t remember you complaining when I was taking care of you.”
“I couldn’t breathe because of you. I couldn’t go anywhere because of you!” Ice cubes swirled around knocking against the glass as he sat it on a coaster. Emerging from a dark corner of the kitchen, Jacob met her warm but wary brown eyes. Out of all the woman before and after her, they hadn’t come close to what she did to him. He felt emotions that could only serve to reduce a man to his lowest terms, which was what had happened to him. He had looked everywhere for her but nothing but dead ends greeted him.
Jacob had become more…beautiful, manly and undoubtedly more kryptonic to her defenses that had become indestructible where men were concerned. She hated the constant push and pull he put her through in her youth and that hadn’t gone away. His baby blues read of misery and pain yet the wrinkles that ran across his forehead ironed out when he looked at her in that way.
“You’re going to tell our daughter about me and how you kept her a secret from me.”
“Amina doesn’t need you or need to know about you.”
“See, that’s where you’re wrong Lauren. Amina’s my daughter and a father is always supposed to protect his daughter. If you don’t tell her, I’ll do it myself.”
“Don’t go near her.”
“You passed her off like an orphan onto a family who couldn’t have protected her like I could have.”
“You are not to bring any kind of harm to her.”
“I’m not the same person I used to be. I don’t do the same things I used to but if I have to revert back to shady tactics, I can guarantee you’ll come out looking more like a loser than you’ve proven yourself to be.”
“Did you ever stop to think what you meant to me?”
“I said get out.”
“I guess not. I loved you and you hurt me real bad. I would have never thought you’d betray me like this.”
“Don’t lay the blame on me.”
“Even after everything that’s occurred between us, I’m a fool that’s still in love with you. I went nuts after you left. But I guess the heart wants what is wants, and it doesn’t want to give you up.”
“You and your lifestyle caused the rift between us.”
“Keep telling yourself that. And by the way, I keep hearing rumors of Amina’s ex. He raped my baby girl. I’ll be visiting him real soon to find out if it’s true. It never fails to surprise me how one can gossip about someone else’s life like it’s no big deal. Back in the day, I did some pretty heinous things to people who refused to give me the information I wanted. Now, information about dirty deeds flows like the Niagra River, nonstop.”
“Stay away from that family.”
“Do you actually expect me to do nothing.”
Jacob studied Lauren’s face and surmised she was afraid, not of him but what could happen to Amina if he weaved himself into this mess. “She’s my daughter.”
“How many times are you going to keep saying that?” she huffed.
“As many times as it takes for you to face it. Amina’s mine. You can’t dispute genetics, she looks just like me only darker. I know where you work and where Amina lives. I can show up anytime. Don’t force my hand. Tell her about me and set up a meeting. One week. That’s all I’m giving you to make this happen.” Before he turned away, he scanned Lauren’s face, she was going to meltdown like she did when they were younger. Funny, he still knew her and no matter how much she may want to deny it, she still carried feelings for him too.
Lauren raked her fingers through her hair. She hated him, really hated him! He’d come and gone like a ghost leaving her stewing in turmoil. What the heck was she going to do? The one regret she didn’t have was leaving and taking her unborn child with her. Now she had to deal with Jacob and the things she knew he was capable of. How was she going to put out two fires at once? Think, she had to think. Thinking got her into this mess and thinking was going to get her out of it. Thankfully, when she asked Charles for her daughter’s number, he agreed but wasn’t confident what good it would do. After all, she was answering his calls when he had left her a dozen voicemails.
But Lauren dialed the number anyway. As expected Amina hadn’t picked up for whatever reason so she left a message asking if it was alright to meet for a talk. She knew her daughter had many questions and assured it would be alright to ask. Lauren closed the call by apologizing and reciting her number before ending the call. Something positive would surely come of this, right?